In the tradition of Robert Goolrick's A Reliable Wife and Karl Marlantes's Matterhorn, P. S. Duffy's astonishing debut showcases a rare and instinctive talent emerging in midlife. Her novel leaps across the Atlantic, between a father at war and a son coming of age at home without him.
When his beloved brother-in-law goes missing at the front in 1916, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing to join the war and find him. Assured a position as a cartographer in London, he is instead sent directly into the visceral shock of battle. Meanwhile, at home, his son Simon Peter must navigate escalating hostility in a fishing village torn by grief. With the intimacy of The Song of Achilles and the epic scope of The Invisible Bridge, The Cartographer of No Man's Land offers a soulful portrayal of World War I and the lives that were forever changed by it, both on the battlefield and at home.
The various themes are so deftly interwoven that one is barely aware of how dense the plot is until one steps away from the book and looks back at the reading experience in wonder. Duffy's gorgeous prose, affecting characters and multifaceted plot are sure to win her many fans with this, her debut effort, and aficionados of WWI literature will definitely want to put this one on their lists. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Well-nuanced characters and carefully choreographed (but still surprising) situations make this a strong debut.
Starred Review. [Her] patience in developing the cast of characters makes for an unusually rich novel.
Starred Review. Essential reading for historical fiction lovers and war story fans alike; very highly recommended.
Simon Mawer, author of Trapeze and The Glass Room
Brilliant. The description of front line action in the trenches is impressively real, and the ending blessedly free from sentimentality. Altogether a remarkable debut."
Mary Beth Keane, author of Fever
Never once while reading The Cartographer of No Man's Land did I doubt Duffy's authority...Never sentimental, Duffy knows where to find the humanity at the heart of even the smallest gestures.
Alexi Zentner, author of Touch The Cartographer of No Man's Land is less of a book about maps and World War I than it is about boys becoming men, men discovering who they are, and the connections between fathers and sons.
Jessica Francis Kane, author of The Report
Cutting deftly between a father at war and a son at home, The Cartographer of No Man's Land is a graceful, dignified look at all the ways in which war is endured: from the stories people tell to keep themselves alive at the front, to the fault lines that threaten the home-front bond.
Amy Brill, author of The Movement of Stars
A haunting meditation on family, friendship, and sacrifice, The Cartographer of No Man's Land charts a deeply felt course from the Nova Scotia coastline to the trenches of Europe, bridging the distance between past and present, duty and honor, obligation and love. A powerful debut.
The Canadian Expeditionary Force and the Battle of Vimy Ridge
In her introduction to The Cartographer of No Man's Land, P.S. Duffy states that the WWI Battle of Vimy Ridge is "as iconic to Canadians as Bunker Hill is to Americans."
The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was formed in 1914 to provide support to the British battling overseas. 619,363 Canadians enlisted, of whom 60,661 – nearly 10% - were killed or wounded. The CEF was instrumental in many important actions, including The Battle of Ypres (1915), The Battle of the Somme (July – November, 1916), and Passchendaele (November 1917). The group was very well-regarded, and members of the CEF were considered among the fiercest fighters.
Vimy Ridge is a 4.3 mile long escarpment about 5 miles northeast of the French town of Arras. While not terribly high at only 200 feet above the surrounding plains, it provides a commanding view in all directions, making it a key strategic objective in military maneuvers. German forces seized control of it in September 1914, and heavily fortified it with bunkers, caves, artillery-proof trenches and concrete...
Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class. At its center this is a profoundand profoundly movingexploration of shame, forgiveness and the difficulty of absolution.
A bestselling Australian writer's American debut and a heart-wrenching novel of World War I, painting a portrait of the changing role of women in medicine and the powerful legacy of love.
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